A synagogue in Peterborough, Ontario, has opened its doors to a local Muslim community after their mosque was damaged in an arson attack earlier this month. Police continue to investigate the targeting of the mosque as part of a wave of hate crimes that followed the attacks in Paris.
"As Canadians we have to stick together," Larry Gillman, president of Beth Israel Synagogue, told CBC News late last week. "It's not about religion, it's not about race. Canadians do this."
The synagogue’s board unanimously voted to make space available to Muslims, and groups of Muslims held their first two prayer sessions at the synagogue Friday. “I hope this can be some kind of small example to others,” Gillman said.
— The Jewish Press (@JewishPress) November 29, 2015
Police said they believed Masjid al-Salaam was deliberately set ablaze Nov. 14 when a firebomb was placed in one of the windows. The damages amounted to about $80,000, and the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
Ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities have strengthened since the mosque incident. Gillman has given a speech at the Muslim Institute of Toronto, and his synagogue has also become involved in plans to resettle Syrian refugees in Canada.
"We have more similarities than differences,” Kenzu Abdella, a Muslim community leader, told the CBC. “We have so much common — the details of worship and the ceremonies. Even the stories we hear are similar.”
— Catrin Nye (@CatrinNye) November 30, 2015
Muslims in Canada, as well as in other Western countries, including the U.S., have experienced a wave of hate crimes since the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, which left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. In Toronto, some Muslims have reported being verbally harassed and assaulted. Several self-defense classes have sprung up catering to Muslim women.
The hashtag #StandWithMuslimsTO was trending about two weeks ago as Canadians expressed solidarity with Toronto’s Muslim community. Another hashtag, #IllRideWithYou, was launched by Toronto residents offering to accompany Muslims concerned about their safety on public transit.